We have got cholesterol completely wrong

Here are six things that we need to know about cholesterol:

i)    It is virtually impossible to explain how vital cholesterol is to the human body. If you had no cholesterol in your body you would be dead. No cells, no bone structure, no muscles, no hormones, no sex, no reproductive system, no digestion, no brain function, no memory, no nerve endings, no movement, no human life – nothing without cholesterol. It is utterly vital and we die instantly without it.

ii)    Cholesterol is so vital to the body that our bodies make it. The body cannot risk leaving it to chance that we would get it externally from food or some other external factor – that’s how critical it is.

iii) There is no such thing as good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Cholesterol is cholesterol. The chemical formula for cholesterol is C27H46O. There is no good version or bad version of this formula.HDL is not even cholesterol, let alone good. LDL is not even cholesterol, let alone bad. HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein. LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein. (There are three other lipoproteins, by the way, chylomicrons, VLDL and IDL).

Fat and cholesterol are not water soluble so they need to be carried around the body in something to do their vital work. The carriers of such substances are called lipoproteins. We can think of lipoproteins as tiny ‘taxi cabs’ travelling round the blood stream acting as transporters. So, lipoproteins are carriers of cholesterol – oh – and triglyceride and phospholipids and protein. All lipoproteins carry all of these substances – just in different proportions. LDL would more accurately be called the carrier of fresh cholesterol and HDL would more accurately be called the carrier of recycled cholesterol.

iv)    The standard blood cholesterol test does not measure LDL  – it estimates it. The fasting blood cholesterol test can only measure total cholesterol and HDL. There are two other unknowns in a four variable equation – LDL and VLDL. The estimation is refined further using the Friedewald equation (named after William Friedewald, who developed it).

Total cholesterol = LDL + HDL + Triglycerides/5 (Ref 1) (More detail here.)

As any mathematician will tell you, one equation, with four variables, only two of which can be measured, is a fat lot of good. We need at least one more equation or known variable, to avoid circular references. This also means that:
–    All other things being equal, LDL will rise if a) total cholesterol rises and/or b) if HDL falls and/or if c) triglycerides fall.
–    All other things being equal, LDL will fall if a) total cholesterol falls and/or b) if HDL rises and/or if c) triglycerides rise.

No wonder an inverse association is observed between LDL and HDL – it is by definition. More surprising is that a fall in triglycerides, which would be welcomed by doctors, would be accompanied by an automatic increase in LDL, all other things being equal, which would not be welcomed by doctors. And you thought that this was scientific.

v)    Statins stop the body from producing the cholesterol that it is designed to produce. They literally stop one of our fundamental body processes from being able to function. The intelligent view on statins is that in the very limited arena where they appear to have some ‘benefit’ (men over 50 who have already had a heart attack), they ‘work’ by having anti-inflammatory properties and that the fact that they lower cholesterol (by stopping the body from being able to produce this vital substance) is a very unfortunate side effect. (Drug companies should work on developing something that has the anti-inflammatory benefit without this huge and damaging side effect – it’s called aspirin).

One in 500 people have familial hypercholesterolemia and may have a problem clearing cholesterol in their body (rather like type 1 diabetics who can’t return their blood glucose levels to normal). For anyone else to be actively trying to lower their vital and life affirming cholesterol levels is deeply troubling.

vi)    “Cholesterol in food has no impact on cholesterol in the blood and we’ve known that all along.” Ancel Keys.

Ancel Keys, the same man who did the brilliant Minnesota starvation experiment, spent the 1950’s trying to show that cholesterol in food was associated with cholesterol in the blood. He concluded unequivocally that there was not even an association, let alone a causation. He never deviated from this view.

Cholesterol is only found in animal foods (it is a vital substance for every living creature). Hence the only foods that Keys could add to human diets, to test the impact of cholesterol, were animal foods. Given that he concluded that eating animal foods had no impact on blood cholesterol levels, it follows that animal foods per se have no impact on blood cholesterol levels (not that high cholesterol is a problem – quite the contrary – but that’s another story).

There is no need, whatsoever, to avoid liver, red meat, other meat, fish, eggs, dairy products etc for any cholesterol that they may contain, or for any other reason.

The body makes cholesterol. I worry about a number of things, but I don’t worry that my body is trying to kill me.

UPDATE: Following numerous blog comments from people “worried about cholesterol”, I’ve written this post.

 

Ref 1: EH Mangiapane, AM Salter, Diet, Lipoproteins and Coronary Heart Disease: A Biochemical Perspective, Nottingham University Press, (1999). (See reference 159 The Obesity Epidemic)

167 thoughts on “We have got cholesterol completely wrong

  • avatar
    May 17, 2017 at 3:49 pm
    Permalink

    Is raised levels of LDL or cholesterol, cause of Heart problems or actually the ‘result of’ some heart related problems?
    They may be together, which is the cause and which is the result?

    Reply
  • avatar
    May 8, 2017 at 8:01 pm
    Permalink

    My doctor has told me my cholesterol numbers are “good and low”. Just recently I’ve come to understand that too low may not be so good. My numbers are Chol 133, Tri 80, HDL 80, LDL Calc 37, LDL direct 38, VLDL 16.
    Mayo clinic web site states that LDL levels below 40 would be considered very low. Symptoms could be anxiety and depression. I’ve had these low levels for 10 years and have suffered from anxiety, stress, brain fog, nerve issues, and on and off mild depression for that entire time.
    I’m not on statins or any other meds, no know liver problems, no hepatitis.
    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Reply
    • avatar
      May 8, 2017 at 8:18 pm
      Permalink

      Hi David
      It’s difficult getting normal distributions of cholesterol levels anymore and normal has been tampered with (due to statins) for years. See this https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5450a8.htm

      Your cholesterol numbers will be on a normal distribution – some people will be higher than average, some lower. You’re lower. You’re all on the normal distribution. The powers that be seem to think there should be no normal distribution – just everyone at the same number. They clearly don’t understand maths (as we call it!)

      Having said this – lower is definitely not necessarily better and you are already aware of some of the symptoms of low cholesterol. This may be of interest too (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2010/11/cholesterol-heart-disease-there-is-a-relationship-but-its-not-what-you-think/) – lower is definitely not better for all the countries in the world, men and women, heart deaths and all deaths. Lower is not better when older – especially over 70 – hopefully that’s not you yet.

      I’m not aware of anything that anyone can do for low cholesterol. The symptoms you mention are real and known to be associated with low cholesterol. If you eat more dietary cholesterol, your body just makes less, so this would be unlikely to raise overall cholesterol. You can eat badly (junk food/especially carbs) and this can raise triglycerides and so overall cholesterol but you won’t be healthier. I’m sorry that I know of nothing that can be done for low cholesterol. A doctors and academics forum (about cholesterol) I frequent once asked if anything could be done to raise cholesterol and there were no answers!

      I’ve read suggestions that dietary fat – esp coconut oil – can help with some mind symptoms. I don’t know how robust this is personally, but it may help. B vitamins may also help – these are known as the mind and mood vitamins. Either liver/red meat/oily fish etc or consider a supplement for a while to see if you notice a difference? Just thoughts – if only cholesterol raising were taken as seriously as lowering!

      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    April 19, 2017 at 12:26 am
    Permalink

    Wow this is been an absolutely fascinating article and I’m due to go back to the doctor this Friday for results from my blood test from the military doc. And went to a keto friendly natural doctor to also have blood work because they measure things a bit differently. It will be interesting to see how both results turn out. I do expect my total cholesterol to go up since I started keto about eight weeks ago, understanding that with time it adjust itself and goes back down?

    I’m one of those sad stories that had cholesterol the 200s to low 200s and my daughter believed anybody over 35 should take statins. Now my total cholesterol was about 320 last time checked and they give me a 4% chance of you know the not so good stuff… four out of 10 that is. Every time I go up the statins and just skyrockets back upand of course I was ignorant and thought my doctor knew what he was talking about.

    I desperately want to get off statins but I’m not sure how to do it. The military doctor that I go to will not be so favorable of this although the natural doctor probably will but I don’t see her for another month. I exercise 4 to 5 times a week doing resistance with my total gym and HIIT on my elliptical. I also do quite a bit of intermittent fasting which I absolutely love because it helps with A1C numbers and they were getting slightly high.

    I’m 60 years old and I have lost around 21 pounds recently been working real hard at eating healthy fats and all the good stuff I was raised on as a child on a farm in KY.

    I’ve got about 20 more pounds to go and have no problem thinking I’ll get there with my new way of eating and living but I’m just not sure how most people go about getting off of statins without the doctor? Do you have to have a doctor to help you get off of your statins? What of my biggest concerns is finding out that your brain needs cholesterol in a big way cause you to be foggy headed and plus a lot of other bad side effects.

    I know you can’t give medical device but if you could leave me to some water add sure be glad to drink it ?

    Reply
  • avatar
    April 18, 2017 at 9:56 am
    Permalink

    It’s scary that people might read this article and get the idea that it’s healthy to eat foods that contain cholesterol. Our body produces it’s own cholesterol, consuming another animals cholesterol is never a good thing.
    I spent 2 years consuming 4 eggs a day because I read a similar article promoting the health benifits of eggs. Only to later find out the truth about how damaging dietary cholestrol is. Not to mention how animal protien raises insulin growth factor 1 in our body which fuels cancer growth at a rapid rate.

    For your own sake people do your own research. I’m not suggesting everyone must go on a plant based diet, but at the very least be aware of the fact that meat, dairy and vegetable oils are not health products. Be sure to moderate your intake accordingly and don’t let yourself be deceived by the corruption and greed in these industries.

    Reply
    • avatar
      March 20, 2017 at 7:52 pm
      Permalink

      Please see my reply to your comment on 11th March.

      Reply
  • avatar
    March 12, 2017 at 10:54 am
    Permalink

    Hi Zoë
    I have been told by a doctor that my cholesterol is very high but everything else is fine, I.e. Low blood pressure low resting heart rate. The doctor has told me that I need to lower my cholesterol. Are you saying that high cholesterol is ok?

    Reply
  • avatar
    March 11, 2017 at 1:58 pm
    Permalink

    Could you please unsubscribe your emails, please, please, please, in
    anticipation thank you.
    Peter.

    Reply
    • avatar
      March 20, 2017 at 7:48 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Peter
      My hubby sent you an email as soon as we saw this blog comment. You are not on any of our email lists. You may have signed up to something like an RSS feed – in which case there will be an unsubscribe button at the bottom of whatever you signed up to. The fact that you’ve just posted another comment makes me wonder if the email you’ve given is correct?!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    March 2, 2017 at 2:20 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Zoë,
    I am 56 years old. I have elevated bad cholesterol, very good “good” cholesterol. Few years ago I had sudden blidness to one eye. Last year I remembered and mentioned that to m dc. So I had all the tests done, including wearing the heart monitor. Everything is fine. But the explanation for the eye blidness (maybe 3 times within 6 months, few years ago) is a stroke to the eye. I was prescribed statin as the only prevention available. I am confused. I have the pills but so far I am not taking them.

    Reply
    • avatar
      March 2, 2017 at 2:42 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Slavka
      This is my main post (with many links elsewhere) on cholesterol http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/

      I am not aware of any evidence that statins do anything helpful after a stroke to the eye (if that’s what it was). I would have thought the contrary – the body makes cholesterol to repair damage – not to cause damage.

      I hope that the post is of interest.
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    February 14, 2017 at 11:40 am
    Permalink

    have been diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolemia – as have my brother and sister. My endocrinologist had recommended statins but I’m scared of taking them. I’m already on levothyroxine, had treatment for breast cancer and have a benign brain tumour. Any advice will be very gratefully received.

    Reply
  • avatar
    February 14, 2017 at 11:39 am
    Permalink

    I have been diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolemia – as have my brother and sister. My endocrinologist had recommended statins but I’m scared of taking them. I’m already on levothyroxine, hadcyrestmemt gir breast cancer and have a benign brain tumour. Any advice will be very gratefully received.

    Reply
  • avatar
    February 13, 2017 at 4:51 am
    Permalink

    What do you think about testing for the size of the cholesterol particles? Does that has any merit or it is another scam? Would you ever try to eat cholesterol and saturated fat for one week and then test your cholesterol levels before and after one week? Does cholesterol oxidizes? Is inflammation theory correct for heart disease? Do we need to eat more sulfur? Is cholesterol sulfate real?

    Which one would you pick:
    1. High fat, low carb
    2. High carb, low fat
    3. Reduced total food intake
    4. High fat, high carb
    5. 3 day fast, 4 day eat what you want

    Would you eat pomegranate to reduce cholesterol (it does it very efficient, but probably it blocks some liver enzymes)?
    What were cholesterol guidelines 100 years ago?
    Should heart attack patients go on low fat diet?
    Is it smart to take vitamin D supplements (it might fool body and mess up feedback loop)?
    Why do people with low thyroid function have problems with heart?
    Is cholesterol plants chlorophyll (no need to answer)?
    If you had a patient with total cholesterol of 500, would you try to lower it or maybe check the liver issues and try to cure a cause?

    Is fructose (and resulting insulin) cause of all heart attacks (just opinion)?

    Would worrying about all of this medical junk kill us easier than if we wouldn’t know anything about it (worry creates money)?

    Is it smart to drink whiskey a day (I’ll end with this question because I need one whiskey after all of this thinking ;-) ?

    Reply
  • avatar
    February 9, 2017 at 8:25 pm
    Permalink

    Understanding how important cholesterol is … what do you do if yours is naturally too low.

    For example: total 125-129. Every doc says “wow, that’s great!” (43 LDL, 76 HDL)

    What can you do to encourage your body to create more naturally?

    Reply
    • avatar
      February 10, 2017 at 8:06 am
      Permalink

      Hi Sally
      I can understand more the desire to raise, rather than lower, cholesterol – however – they’re both flip sides of a coin. I think we should just leave cholesterol alone and let the body make what is needs. The fact that yours is naturally low suggests that your body is not having to make more to deal with injury/illness/stress etc.

      You could get sick and then it would go up!? ;-)

      Let’s all leave poor cholesterol alone!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    January 25, 2017 at 2:26 pm
    Permalink

    Whilst I am very relieved the truth about cholesterol is finally emerging, we still need to make a clear distinction between saturated fat and trans fat – the latter still being unhealthy. Basically, any fat that is either a) artificial (which is in most processed, commercially produced food products), or b) has been heated to a high temperature, such as frying (which causes the fat to solidify, rendering it difficult to absorb and utilize by the body), cannot be classed as “good”. So, dairy, eggs and some meats are only beneficial as long as they are consumed either raw or very lightly cooked.

    Also, one needs to consider the role of sugar in the diet (in terms of the over consumption of it by the western world – refined or otherwise), which I also believe to be at the heart of the explosion in CVD’s and cancers. There is a process called ‘glycation’ that occurs – which basically means the bonding of sugar molecules to a protein or lipid (cholesterol) without the controlling aspect of an enzyme. Too much sugar in the diet causes over Glycation, which causes the blood to thicken and clot, therefore leading to heart problems. So, although saturated fats (in their own right) aren’t dangerous; when combined with additional sugar they most certainly become so.

    In summary, its OK to eat a moderate amount of dairy, eggs and meat as long as they are not overcooked or combined with sugar – so please put down your cakes, crisps and frying pans.

    Additionally, its worth noting that dairy is best consumed raw (unpasteurized and uncooked), but considering it is extremely difficult to get hold of raw milk and cheeses (another subject altogether), particularly in the UK, one needs to consider the whole pasteurization process itself…..

    …heating the milk to a high degree (to kill pathogens). But heating the milk not only damages its fat content (as outlined earlier), but it also damages the enzyme lactase which is needed to digest the lactose (sugar) contained within – and without the presence of this vital enzyme, the glycation process goes uncontrolled thus causing the blood to thicken (and eventually clot)!

    Very complex subject matter which needs further considerations, so let’s not be too hasty in our assumptions that saturated fat is healthy as that really depends on how the fat has been treated and what may also have been added or taken away from it.

    Reply
  • avatar
    January 17, 2017 at 8:14 am
    Permalink

    And the madness continues , I wrote to you the other day, thank you for the reply.

    So today my GP insisted I see a cardiologist because my total cholesterol is 7 (Australia) I’m a 38 year old male.

    Reading your blog restores my level of comfort, but these doctors really drive a compelling case to scare the crap out of me. (Are they really misinformed ??)

    I suppose I’m looking to hear one thing from you to get me off this conveyor belt.

    Thanks Zoe.

    Reply
    • avatar
      January 17, 2017 at 12:46 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Louie
      I sent you many things to read in that post (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/). Your cholesterol is bang on the true normal. You are being told that normal is abnormal – why? Who stands to gain from this? Not you for sure. Not me for sure…

      In my experience there are only two reasons for promoting the cholesterol crime: ignorance or conflict. The drug companies are involved in setting the targets (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2014/07/nice-has-ended-any-debate-about-its-independence/) This is the US position (I think the conflict bit starts around 36 mins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vr-c8GeT34) If docs know this/benefit from this, they are in conflict. If they don’t know it, they’re ignorant.

      No offence, but it matters not one iota to me what you decide. It may not matter much to you – you may decide to take statins and not suffer too many side effects. Or you may lose your sex drive, energy, mood, mind, muscles and all sorts. For what – a blood test reading (known to be 20% inaccurate for starters) to keep your doc happy?!

      Your call sport!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    January 16, 2017 at 8:29 pm
    Permalink

    A few years ago I went on a medically supervised liquid diet. Everyone else in my class had their cholesterol go down. Mine shot up. I went from 240 to a crazy 320. I was literally only having shakes to eat for 3 months. I think this happened for two reasons. First, my thyroid started cutting back and second my body was under a tremendous stress and my bodies reaction to deal with it was pumping up cholesterol. I suspect I was getting too little to eat. I went off the diet and my cholesterol immediately returned to 220.

    Recently I heard about a theory of heart disease called The Myogenic Theory. Simplified it says heart attacks are caused by a weakened heart and triggered due to stress. There are some things that help your heart stay strong called Cardiotonics – your body makes them naturally. One of the biggest Cardiotonics is digitalis which is prescribed for heart failure… to help it pump more strongly. What is a crucial building material for these? Cholesterol. So this theory states that they way you avoid heart problems is to keep your heart strong with the proper nutrients (including cholesterol and magnesium) and avoiding stress to the body and heart.

    In light of Alan Thick and Carrie Fisher’s deaths (one while vigorously exercising) and one with a history of cocaine abuse.. on a plane.. I am thinking this one is on the right track.

    Reply
    • avatar
      January 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Sara
      I like the way you’re thinking! Very interesting…
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    January 12, 2017 at 1:53 am
    Permalink

    Hi Dr.

    I received my blood test results today, my Doc wants to start me on Lipitor (my Cholesterol has increased over the past 12 months. (im so confused right now, because I have been training, lost body fat and CM around my waist but numbers going up ? ) I am 38 years old) below are my Numbers in mmol/L, As you Know * = Out of range. (Im in Australia)

    Cholesterol: Jan 2016 5.6* Now 7.0* (Given Lipitor) Told this is very Dangerous and to look out, Stroke, Heart disease etc.. (Why is it climbing, if anything I have increased my Training)
    Trig: Jan 2016 1.4 Now 1.1
    HDL: Jan 2016 1.0 Now 1.2
    LDL: Jan 2016 4.0* Now 5.3*’
    Non-HDL: Jan 2016 4.6* Now 5.8*
    Chol/HDL: Jan2016 5.6* Now 5.8*
    Serum/Plasma Glucose: Jan 2016 5.4 Now 5.9*

    I am so confused now and not sure what to do, im really worried.

    Reply
    • avatar
      January 12, 2017 at 8:37 am
      Permalink

      Hi Louie – I’m a PhD doctor not a medical doctor, but a medical doctor wouldn’t give you advice in a blog comment anyway.

      I wrote this post for comments just like yours http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/

      It’s called “worried about…” because people do worry and I would happily slap with a wet kipper (a Dr Malcolm Kendrick epxression) every drug and marketing person who has made this the case for no valid reason whatsoever.
      I hope you find the post interesting/helpful
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
      • avatar
        January 12, 2017 at 10:09 am
        Permalink

        Hi Zoe,

        Yes thank you I read the post, interesting and Helpful.

        so, 7.0 mmol/L Total Cholesterol and LDL5.3mmol/L, shouldn’t keep me up at night worrying ?

        The fact that its crept up in 12 months has got me worried too.

        Reply
  • avatar
    January 4, 2017 at 6:02 pm
    Permalink

    I’m a 64yo female with a 50-year obesity issue and a tendency to send this article to anyone who’ll listen, and some who won’t. Thank you for making a complicated subject much more easy to understand.

    Beloved father-in-law was on a scary array of pills when he entered hospital during his final illness at the age of 87, few of which were extending or improving his life. He would joke that he rattled when he walked. A very sensible consultant was horrified and took him off them all, commenting that they were probably doing more harm than good. Statins and warfarin for a fairly healthy man nearing 90 with no history of cardiac events or chronic disease at all?

    Reply
    • avatar
      January 4, 2017 at 6:53 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Sue
      Many thanks for your kind words.
      Even the patient leaflet for statins cautions against anyone over 70 taking them – why do docs not know this? Good to hear you came across and enlightened consultant.
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    January 3, 2017 at 7:06 pm
    Permalink

    Is there a way to share this article?

    Reply
  • avatar
    December 23, 2016 at 2:14 am
    Permalink

    Just had my 50th this year along with a wellness exam.
    244 Total
    68 Tri
    96 HDL
    184 LDL
    198 Non HDL???
    Told my doctor I was starting a caloric diet, he said I didn’t need to lose much because my BMI is good considering my muscle mass. Still going for it though. 10 – 15 lbs. Pretty active. Slowed down a little since Feb. because of hernia surgery. Fixing to kick it back in gear though. My job is pretty active as well, 3-4 miles a day hoofing it around town. After reading your articles, I don’t feel overly concerned about cholesterol. Feedback please. Thank you for your whistlebloweresque attitude!!!
    I have always been leary and skeptical of Big Pharma. I know some people who have prescriptions that seem to contradict each other. I hate taking meds. Broke my back when I was in my early 20s and after about 20 years had some discomfort and pain. Was prescribed 1000 MGS of Naproxen a day indefinitely and took for about a month and told my MD I refuse to take 1000 MGS of anything a day forever.

    Reply
  • avatar
    December 22, 2016 at 3:25 pm
    Permalink

    lowering cholosterole can encrease the risk of cancer

    most ppl that die of infractus or heart attack don’t have high level of cholesterol, my grandfather died of heart attack his cholesterole was 110 he went to the doctor every 6 months to test blood

    fasting encrease cholesterole and fasting is good for heart

    Reply
  • avatar
    December 21, 2016 at 10:17 pm
    Permalink

    I have an appointment in a few weeks with a lipidologist because of my cholesterol levels.
    Are these results ok in your opinion?

    HDL .75
    Ldl 14.2
    Triglycerides 0.7

    I have been on a ketogenic diet for a year and low carb high fat before this for one year.

    I am 57 kg 57 years old and I exercise regularly.

    I would be interested in your thoughts

    Reply
  • avatar
    December 19, 2016 at 12:57 pm
    Permalink

    Dear Zoe,

    Your views on cholesterol and statins are, quite frankly, harmfull. I’m sure, you do not intend to do harm. However, by misinforming the people reading your blog, you are harming them. People who should use statins to lower their risk are not taking medicine, because of your advice. You, as a scientist, should know that you cannot base your advice on a study from 1950 and just reference one article, from 1990 (!).

    There are a lotof unkowns regarding cholesterol and statins, that is true. However, the most important aspect is very clear. People who take statin live significantly longer.

    I realise that taking statins sucks. And I know that your doctor telling you to take pills, while you feel fine, is confusing. But this advice is based on solid evidence. It has been proven time and time again that statins are hugely beneficial.

    Please read all the evidence and consider re-evaluating your advice. I’ve detailed some landmark studies below, though there are many more.

    Kind regards,
    Mat, cardiologist in training

    – Statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, 2013, Taylor et. al.
    This is a cochrane meta-analysis, the highest possible form of evidence.
    Just a few of the findings: “All-cause mortality was reduced by statins, as was combined fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease (CVD), combined fatal and non-fatal coronary heart disease (CHD) and combined fatal and non-fatal stroke.” “There was no evidence of any serious harm caused by statin prescription.”

    – Rosuvastatin to Prevent Vascular Events in Men and Women with Elevated C-Reactive Protein, 2008, Ridker et. al.
    Cholesterol Lowering in Intermediate-Risk Persons without Cardiovascular Disease, 2016, Yusuf et. al.
    These study’s show the benefit of statins, even without high cholesterol. A 30% reduction of cardiovascular events in just 5 years!

    Reply
    • avatar
      December 19, 2016 at 2:23 pm
      Permalink

      Dear cardiologist in training
      Have you ever wondered where your information/funding comes from? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/business/03medschool.html?_r=0

      Plenty more reading here http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/

      Including this non-industry conflicted recent article (http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/9/e007118.full) (3-4 days after 5 years of “statins sucks”)

      The Cochrane meta-analysis can only combine studies in existence. Please send me those that didn’t have pharma funding and then the meta-analysis would be interesting… (Here’s a non-industry funded one for example http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/785851)

      Plus Cochrane 2011 concluded only high risk groups might gain some benefit while “Caution should be taken in prescribing statins for primary prevention among people at low cardiovascular risk”. Cochrane 2014 changed its conclusion following the 2012 Rory Collins article in the Lancet. This is how conflicted Collins is (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2014/08/ctsu-funding-from-drug-companies/) Plus – why won’t the CTSU share benefit and harm data so that researchers can review it independently? (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2016/12/dear-professor-rory-collins/)

      Here are the conflicts for the Ridker article! “Supported by AstraZeneca.
      Dr. Ridker reports receiving grant support from AstraZeneca, Novartis, Merck, Abbott, Roche, and Sanofi-Aventis; consulting fees or lecture fees or both from AstraZeneca, Novartis, Merck, Merck–Schering-Plough, Sanofi-Aventis, Isis, Dade Behring, and Vascular Biogenics; and is listed as a coinventor on patents held by Brigham and Women’s Hospital that relate to the use of inflammatory biomarkers in cardiovascular disease, including the use of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in the evaluation of patients’ risk of cardiovascular disease. These patents have been licensed to Dade Behring and AstraZeneca. Dr. Fonseca reports receiving research grants, lecture fees, and consulting fees from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Schering-Plough, Sanofi-Aventis, and Merck; and Dr. Genest, lecture fees from AstraZeneca, Schering-Plough, Merck–Schering-Plough, Pfizer, Novartis, and Sanofi-Aventis and consulting fees from AstraZeneca, Merck, Merck Frosst, Schering-Plough, Pfizer, Novartis, Resverlogix, and Sanofi-Aventis. Dr. Gotto reports receiving consulting fees from Dupont, Novartis, Aegerion, Arisaph, Kowa, Merck, Merck–Schering-Plough, Pfizer, Genentech, Martek, and Reliant; serving as an expert witness; and receiving publication royalties. Dr. Kastelein reports receiving grant support from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Roche, Novartis, Merck, Merck–Schering-Plough, Isis, Genzyme, and Sanofi-Aventis; lecture fees from AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Novartis, Merck–Schering-Plough, Roche, Isis, and Boehringer Ingelheim; and consulting fees from AstraZeneca, Abbott, Pfizer, Isis, Genzyme, Roche, Novartis, Merck, Merck–Schering-Plough, and Sanofi-Aventis. Dr. Koenig reports receiving grant support from AstraZeneca, Roche, Anthera, Dade Behring and GlaxoSmithKline; lecture fees from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, DiaDexus, Roche, and Boehringer Ingelheim; and consulting fees from GlaxoSmithKline, Medlogix, Anthera, and Roche. Dr. Libby reports receiving lecture fees from Pfizer and lecture or consulting fees from AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, VIA Pharmaceuticals, Interleukin Genetics, Kowa Research Institute, Novartis, and Merck–Schering-Plough. Dr. Lorenzatti reports receiving grant support, lecture fees, and consulting fees from AstraZeneca, Takeda, and Novartis; Dr. Nordestgaard, lecture fees from AstraZeneca, Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Merck and consulting fees from AstraZeneca and BG Medicine; Dr. Shepherd, lecture fees from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Merck and consulting fees from AstraZeneca, Merck, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Nicox, and Oxford Biosciences; and Dr. Glynn, grant support from AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb. No other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.”

      Yusuf was funded by Astra Zeneca.

      You seem smart – for the sake of your patients – please be curious and not overly trusting…

      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    December 13, 2016 at 9:01 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Zoë,

    First of all, thank you for writing this article, I found it very interesting.

    I have a question I am hoping you can shed some light on: since eating animal foods has no impact on blood cholesterol levels, where Does the cholesterol in animal foods go when we eat them? what impact does it have on the body?

    Thank you,

    Felipe

    Reply
    • avatar
      December 15, 2016 at 6:12 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Felipe
      The body makes the cholesterol that it needs (assuming it is allowed to do this and statins are not getting in the way). If we eat more cholesterol, the requirement for the body to make cholesterol is reduced.
      Hope this helps
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    December 12, 2016 at 10:58 pm
    Permalink

    Hi, I’m a 65 year old female. MI aged 40 and started on statins. In the last four years have had 4 coronary artery stents and a bilateral carotid endarterectomy. Saw my Cardiologist a few weeks ago, c/o tiredness and lethargy, had stress ECG with ultrasound, 24hr BP monitoring and blood tests. Guess what……my heart is great but my liver function is c***p. No alcohol damage, I rarely drink . What then? Statin damage! He told me to stop taking them. Repeat bloods just for liver function in a few weeks time. Here’s hoping the liver will repair itself . I’m otherwise fit and active leading a full life, volunteering five days a week! One of the UKs broadsheet newspapers is today slating the use of statins. Hmmm!!!

    Reply
    • avatar
      December 13, 2016 at 9:34 am
      Permalink

      Hi Barbara – thanks so much for sharing this although I’m really sorry to hear it. I saw yesterday’s article in the Telegraph on side effects – I’ve spoken to the journalist a few times. Far too many statin damage case studies around for her to cover :-(

      Good luck with your future tests and hopefully the liver will repair with your otherwise good health
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *